No drama over Park Slope humps

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Some love them, some hate them, and some love to hate them — but however you feel, there are two new speed humps on 13th Street, and residents are crowing.

“We have many older people and kids,” said 13th Street Block Association President Josefina Fanfeliu. “Between the truck traffic, and the cars racing to Lowe’s, Fairway in Red Hook or the Pathmark on Hamilton Avenue, we were concerned. We all remembered those two little boys who were killed on Third Avenue, and no one wants that to happen again.”

So Fanfeliu and other parents on the block between Fourth and Fifth avenues collected signatures and presented them to Community Board 6 earlier this year. The board quickly — and unanimously — approved the new speed humps, which were installed last month.

It was a surprisingly easy passage for humps that detractors say impede drivers and make them miss a green light.

But that is precisely the point, supporters say. Too many residential blocks in Park Slope are like speedways, as drivers jump off congested Third and Fourth avenues and race their way around traffic. There is a hump on nearby 14th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues that is so beloved that it is known locally as “Ann’s bump” after someone painted the name Ann on the DOT’s “bump” sign.

Fanfeliu confirmed that the 13th Street humps are already working: “Since they went in, we’ve had less illegal truck traffic, and already people are slowing down.”

If not otherwise posted, the speed limit on New York City streets is 30 mph, but almost no one drives that slowly. That’s where speed humps come in (they’re not speed “bumps,” by the way, which can’t be used on New York City streets because they can damage cars and motorcycles, according to the Department of Transportation).

Many residents talk about getting one of those old-fangled safety devices, but not all streets are eligible. They can only be installed on residential streets, except for local bus routes, designated truck routes or snow emergency routes.

To get one, write to the Commissioner of Transportation, 40 Worth St., New York, NY 10013. But you won’t stand a chance unless you have the support the community, “such as a petition of support signed by a majority of the homeowners, residents, businesses, or other organizations … or a letter of support from a local elected official.”

If the DOT thinks the block is eligible, the hump heads to the local community board for debate. And if the “debate” at Community Board 6 regarding the new humps is any indication, the asphalt lumps usually get approved because no one wants to appear to be supporting speeders.

Nica Lalli is a member of Community Board 6 and voted in favor of the 13th Street speed hump.

Updated 4:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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